Region 6 News Release: USDL-OSHA-98-112-12-17
Thursday, December 17, 1998
Contact: Diana Petterson or Beverly Sepulveda (214) 767-4776, ext. 222 or 221
OSHA PROPOSES $76,500 PENALTY AGAINST JUSTIN INDUSTRIES, ACME BRICK CO. IN FORT SMITH, ARKANSAS
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Justin Industries-Acme Brick Co., in Fort Smith, Ark., for alleged safety and health violations with proposed penalties of $76,500, announced the U.S. Department of Labor.
The Justin Industries, Acme Brick Co., facility manufactures bricks and employs about 50 workers. The investigation began in June as part of an OSHA special emphasis program on silica exposure.
The company was cited for three willful violations when the OSHA investigation found the operator of the squeeze lift, a truck used to transport bricks from one location to another, was not issued, nor required to wear, appropriate respiratory protective equipment, exposing the operator to the hazards of breathing quartz containing silica dust. A willful violation is defined as an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The company was also cited for three serious violations when the operator of the grinder, a machine used to clean and smooth out the bricks, was not wearing the appropriate respirator. The grinder operator was also exposed to silica levels or dust above the permissible exposure levels (PEL) as determined by the American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygienists. Additionally, the brick cutting machine, used to cut out the desired size of the brick from a large mass of clay and sand, was not protected with a machine guard which exposed the operator to possibly being struck by rotating parts. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious harm could result.
"Bricks contain crystal and quartz, both of which contain silica or sand, and cleaning off the bricks or transporting the bricks produces silica dust which can cause silicosis and other related respiratory diseases," explained OSHA Little Rock Area Director Paul J. Hansen.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.